Today, and in the foreseeable future, military operations require U.S. personnel, in particular Army and Marine Corps ground forces, to communicate and interact with multinational partners and local populations. The committee report accompanying a proposed bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 directed GAO to review several issues related to language and culture training for Army and Marine Corps general purpose forces. For this report, GAO evaluated (1) the extent to which the Army and Marine Corps had developed strategies with elements such as goals, funding priorities, and metrics to guide training approaches and investments that were aligned with Department of Defense (DOD) planning efforts and (2) DOD's approach for identifying training requirements for Army and Marine Corps forces that will deploy to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. To do so, GAO analyzed Army and Marine Corps strategies and training requirements and interviewed cognizant officials.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||1. To help ensure that the Army's and Marine Corps' strategies address key planning elements and are aligned with departmentwide efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of the Navy to assign responsibilities for training program performance and include in subsequent updates of the Army's and Marine Corps' respective language and culture strategies: (1) training priorities and investments that are necessary to achieve strategic goals and objectives; and (2) results-oriented performance metrics to measure progress in achieving the strategic goals and objectives.|
|Department of Defense||2. To enhance DOD's ability to set strategic direction for its language and culture training efforts, and better align its efforts to develop and implement plans and measure progress against established goals, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to issue guidance to establish within the implementation plan for the Department of Defense Strategic Plan for Language Skills, Regional Expertise, and Cultural Capabilities (2011-2016) a clearly defined planning process with mechanisms, such as procedures and milestones, by which it can reach consensus with the military departments, coordinate and review approval of updates to plans, synchronize the development of plans with the budget process, monitor the implementation of initiatives, and report progress, on a periodic basis, towards achieving established goals.|
|Department of Defense||3. To provide a consistent approach for identifying predeployment language and culture training requirements for the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, the Secretary of Defense direct the Commander of U.S. Central Command to establish a comprehensive, analytically based process to: (1) identify and approve predeployment training requirements and include in this documentation a description of the analysis to be conducted prior to approving the requirements; and (2) coordinate with key stakeholders, such as the military services and subordinate commands to ensure that requirements are synchronized among and within DOD components and with departmentwide guidance, and solicit feedback on service training approaches in meeting operational needs.|